Ohio, as it has often done this season, took an early lead in its 7-2 victory over Central Michigan on Friday. It scored a run in each of the first two innings, marking the 11th game against Mid-American Conference opponents that Ohio has scored first in.
While they maintained their lead, the Bobcats offense soon slowed to a halt. They mustered just four hits over the next three innings and left five runners on base.
But that changed in the sixth inning. Central Michigan scored its first run of the game in the top of the inning, and Ohio responded with a five-run burst that all but set its win in stone. Ohio scored all five runs with two outs on the board. It recorded a double, two triples and two home runs to race ahead of Central Michigan.
“I think we were being a little bit too patient in the middle (of the game),” Ohio coach Kenzie Roark said. “Then we started being a little more aggressive on pitches that we liked and I think that paid off.”
Ohio’s aggression has paid dividends all season, and it has created one of the most versatile offenses in the MAC.
The Bobcats were carried by key players such as Annalia Paoli and Megan McMenemy throughout stretches of the season. While Paoli and McMenemy have continued to excel over the past few weeks, they aren’t alone. The Bobcats have also seen increased production up and down the lineup, and Friday’s sixth-inning explosion was a perfect example.
The rally began with a pair of extra-base hits by the last two hitters in Ohio’s batting order, Brooke Rice and Lauren Yuhas. The top of the order finished the job when Allie Englant brought Yuhas home with a two-run home run, Yasmine Logan hit the second triple of the inning and McMenemy crushed her third home run of the season.
A level of high-scoring production from the entire lineup is special for many teams, but it is far from unexpected for the Bobcats.
“I think top to bottom, every single person in the lineup can put it over at any time in the game,” Rice said. “I think that (power) is something that we can see from everybody on the team.”
Ohio isn’t lacking in batting power from its roster. Of the 13 players that have appeared in at least 10 games for Ohio, all but two have hit at least one home run this season.
Ohio received contributions from both its key players and some of its less-heralded players Friday, and this has slowly become the norm throughout the season. Ohio’s offense warmed up and blew past Central Michigan for its eighth win in nine games. Its offense is versatile. Any player in the lineup can step up to the plate and wreak havoc. Ohio’s opponents get no easy outs, and Friday’s five-run sixth inning was the perfect example as to why.